LeBron James Backs CA Bill to Allow College Athletes to Earn Sponsorship Income

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2019

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12:  LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on after the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks 42 to 20 in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Count Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James among those in California who support Senate Bill 206.

James tweeted his support for the bill that would allow college athletes to market their likenesses and make money from endorsements and sponsorships:

LeBron James @KingJames

Everyone is California- call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206! This law is a GAME CHANGER. College athletes can responsibly get paid for what they do and the billions they create.

LeBron James @KingJames

Check this out!!! https://t.co/I3e5I44j6c

LeBron James @KingJames

We started this fight with our doc “Student Athlete” on HBO. Just getting started! 🙏🏾💪🏾

According to the website for Sen. Nancy Skinner, who represents California's Senate District 9, SB 206 won bipartisan support in a 31-4 vote of approval by the state Senate in May.

The website says the bill "punches a hole in unfair rules that exploit college athletes and allow the NCAA, universities, TV networks, and corporate sponsors to pocket huge sums."

The website further explains athletes could earn money from their likenesses starting in 2023, and it would not impact their scholarship eligibility. What's more, athletes could hire agents during their collegiate careers, although colleges would not be permitted to sign high schoolers to advertising deals to help recruiting.

"NCAA rules disproportionately harm students from low-income families," Skinner said. "And they're particularly unfair to female athletes, because for many young women, college is the only time they could earn income, since women have fewer professional sports opportunities than men."

The Associated Press (h/t ABC News) noted the bill is waiting for assembly action after it cleared the Senate.

The AP report pointed out many schools oppose the bill because NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a warning that it may prevent California colleges from playing for national titles in various sports.

It is not the first time James, who went straight to the NBA draft out of high school, has criticized the NCAA this offseason.

He took issue with the NCAA's proposed policy—deemed by some as the "Rich Paul Rule"—that would require agents who want to represent student-athletes to hold a bachelor's degree. Paul, who represents James, does not have a college degree.

LeBron James @KingJames


LeBron James @KingJames

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop! They BIG MAD 😡 and Scared 😱. Nothing will stop this movement and culture over here. Sorry! Not sorry. 😁✌🏾

The NCAA changed that rule following plenty of criticism.

Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com reported the bachelor's degree is no longer a requirement, and agents must instead "be in good standing with the National Basketball Players Association."